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Celebrate public lands despite fires

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The U.S. Forest Service on Monday issued a news release encouraging people to take advantage of Public Lands Day this Saturday. Day use fees at most Forest Service recreation sites will be waived, so visitors are encouraged to enjoy federal recreation areas. But with so many wildfires in our region this month, The Worm was wondering just how much of our national forest is available for recreational fun without running into a closed or charred area. So she looked it up. Fires still burning in Washington and Oregon encompass 148,000 acres. That includes the Table Mountain, Wenatchee Complex, Okanogan Complex, Yakima Complex and Goat Fire. So far this year, in Washington and Oregon, wildfires have burned over 1.4 million acres, but just 239,541 of those acres burned on national forests, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. Most of those fires — 1.1 million acres — burned on Bureau of Land Management property. With more than 4 million acres in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest alone, the Worm feels confident you can find somewhere to recreate for free this Saturday without any concern over the fires still burning. But you may want to check out www.fs.usda.gov/okawen and look for alerts and warnings to find out what is closed before you head out. Happy trails!

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